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In 2010 scientists from the Scripps Research Institute showed for the first time that 'lifeless' organic substances with no genetic material — prions similar to those believed responsible for Mad Cow disease and similar, rare conditions in humans — are capable of evolving just like higher forms of life...
More recently, researchers at MIT (see video below) have discovered that prion molecules can clamp onto DNA and prevent some parts of the sequence from being read, leading to genetic changes
Large proteins are to chemistry what War and Peace is to the alphabet: incredibly long and stuffed with more data than the human mind knows what to do with. Even the shape encodes information, and amazingly that's the aspect attacked by infectious prions – they're transmitted shapes, twisting healthy prions into catalytic carriers of their own twisted form.
Inheritance Without Genes? Yeast Does It With Proteins
Scientists have long wondered why our brains contain proteins called prions, which from a medical standpoint seem like a huge liability. The prions in our brains make us vulnerable to mad cow disease and other brain wasting conditions that are caused by misfolded versions of these prions that clump up. It was a shock to the scientific community that any infection could be transmitted not by an organism but by a protein - an inanimate molecule. That discovery eventually led to a Nobel Prize for biologist Stanley Prusiner.
Now, research published yesterday in the journal Nature shows that yeast cells carry prions that can enhance survival, helping the organisms adapt to stressful conditions. Prions not only spread disease, they can also pass traits from one generation to the next. In doing so, they may allow an alternative mechanim for evolution to proceed.
Life does not and cannot come from something that is not alive.
...bacteria on up can respond to stimuli, maintain homeostatis, procreate, metabalize etc... yes prions and viruses can do some of these things but they can't meet every criteria for life.
(Deuteronomy 24:16) - "Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin."
(Ezekiel 18:20) - "The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself."
“It means that ‘protein mutations’, or prions, have a strong impact on [the physical appearance of an organism], so not all evolution is occurring through a DNA change,” Chernoff says.